Breaking the Rules at Kloster Eberbach

I guess there are worse things in life than getting lost in a German winery. Worse yet, I suppose, is getting locked into one of the most amazing wine cellars I’ve ever seen.

Let me explain. I first visited Kloster Eberbach west of Frankfurt while on business a few years ago. The Kloster, or monastery, was built in 1136, but decommissioned as an abbey in 1803. Now you can get married there, hold a conference, or simply enjoy a winetasting and tour.

I was so impressed at my first visit that when we lived in Frankfurt we made a special trip to the old abbey to see how wine was made in the early days and more importantly, to see the wine cellar.

Wine cellar at Kloster Eberbach
Wine cellar at Kloster Eberbach

 

The cellar is actually at ground level, but takes up an entire wing of the Kloster. There are no windows. Light comes from the dozens of candles placed on the ancient oak barrels laid out around the perimeter and used as tables during wine tastings.

We had wanted to see the cellar while we were there, but were told it was being used for a private event. Bad news. Maybe. We went to look anyway, and our timing was perfect. The event was breaking up and people were leaving. We ducked inside and wandered into the darkest areas where the lighting was poor. We heard the clang of the main entrance gate closing and the unmistakable sound of a lock engaging. We rushed to the door.

Carla inside the amazing wine cellar at Kloster Eberbach
Carla inside the amazing wine cellar at Kloster Eberbach

We were locked in…in one of the most amazing wine cellars you will ever see.

We wandered around, taking in the rare atmosphere, but the hour was getting late and we didn’t want to be forced to spend the night so we banged the gate until we attracted an employee, who found a key to let us out. Needless to say, we bought a case of their wine to compensate them for our inappropriate behaviour.

Is Kloster Eberbach worth a visit? Absolutely, and we went back several times after that initial experience. The atmosphere of the place is remarkable, and the old church still holds local recitals.

When we were there, several men who were simply visitors, broke into a Gregorian Chant. They were good, and the acoustics in the church made it even better. Even if you’re not of a religious bent, sitting in an ancient church listening to ancient hymns sung with remarkable ability can make your whole day.

If you’d like to read more about Kloster Eberbach, there are German language books available at Amazon, but you might be better served in English with this general guide to German wines.

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